The daughter of a man killed by the British army’s Military Reaction Force (MRF) more than 50 years ago has said she wants to clear his name after it emerged a former squaddie is to be charged with his murder.
The ex-squaddie, known as Soldier F, has been charged with killing Patrick McVeigh (44) in May 1972.
The father-of-six was shot dead at the junction of Riverdale Park South and Finaghy Road North in west Belfast after he stopped to chat to unarmed members of the Catholic ex Servicemen’s Association who were manning a civilian checkpoint in the area.
Soldier F has also been charged with the attempted murder of six other men in the early 1970s, including four during the incident that resulted in the death of Mr McVeigh.
He is also being charged with the attempted murder of two people in a separate shooting at Slievegallion Drive in west Belfast, also in May 1972, along with three other former squaddies known as Soldiers B, C, and D.
The Public Prosecution Service also confirmed on Thursday that there was insufficient evidence to charge two former soldiers, A and C, in relation to the death of Daniel Rooney (18) at St James’ Road in west Belfast, in September 1972.
A second man was injured in that attack.
Both were considered for the potential charge of murder and attempted murder.
The teenager’s remains were exhumed from Milltown Cemetery in 2016 as part of the investigation into his death.
The decision to prosecute will not be impacted by the British government’s controversial Legacy Act, which will introduce a Troubles amnesty in some cases later this year.
Established by General Frank Kitson, who died last month, the MRF is believed to have operated between 1971 - 1973 before it was disbanded.
The shadowy military unit has been linked to the murder of several Catholic civilians.
Speaking to The Irish News Ms McVeigh said “it’s very good news”.
“I am just so sorry that the other cases are not being brought to prosecution, such as the Daniel Rooney case, and the other cases of attempted murder by this MRF unit,” she said.
Ms McVeigh’s said her family has “fought” for justice for 35 years.
“I just wish it was the same for everybody,” she said.
“They are all deserving cases.”
Ms McVeigh said her campaign to uncover the truth remained constant over the years.
“Well, there wouldn’t have been a week passed, or a day or two passed, that you weren’t trying to plan ahead, what can I do next? Who can I write to?” she said.
The loving daughter said she felt “very emotional” about the PPS decision.
“I am just so sorry that we grew up without a father, when he was such a good person. Hopefully now we can clear his name.”
The PPS has also decided not to prosecute the one surviving suspect in relation to a shooting incident at Silvio Street on May 26, 1972, in which no-one was injured.
A similar decision was made in relation to a surviving suspect linked to an incident at the Glen Road Bus Terminus on June 22, 1972, during which four victims suffered were shot and injured.
A shooting on the Glen Road on May 6, 1972, in which one victim suffered a gunshot wound, was also investigated.
No decision was reached in that case as all the suspects have since died.
The PPS has concluded that the surviving suspects in the Silvio Street incident and the shooting at the Glen Road Bus Terminus did not discharge their weapons and therefore there was insufficient evidence to establish that they were party to a joint enterprise with those who did open fire and have since died.
Ciarán MacAirt, from the research charity Paper Trail, has uncovered previously unseen documents linked to the MRF in the past, including unredacted files naming members if the unit.
“Whilst we may hope that justice will finally prevail, Britain’s disgraceful Legacy Act denies families like Patrick McVeigh’s equal access to due process of the law,” he said.
Alan Brecknell from the Pat Fincuane Centre said the PPS decision “proves compellingly that the shameful legacy legislation due to come into force on 1 May is completely unfit for purpose”.
Sinn Féin West Belfast MP Paul Maskey said “rulings like today is exactly why the British Government wants to slam the door shut on families ever getting justice with its sham Legacy Act which is about covering up the role of shadowy state forces, like the MRF, who were involved in the killing of Irish citizens”.